The most wanted fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi has been denied bail for a second time by a London court.”There are substantial grounds to believe that Nirav Modi will fail to surrender,” Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said, voicing her fears in case he is let out on bail.
The same judge had ordered the extradition of another fugitive tycoon – former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya – last December. Nirav will now return to prison in south-west London, where he has been lodged since last Wednesday. The next date of hearing is April 26, when he will be produced in court via video conference.
Earlier, the prosecution told the court that not only was Modi a flight risk, he had also issued death threats to witnesses related to his fraud and money laundering case. Looking dishevelled and dressed in a similar white shirt as he wore in his first court appearance last week, the 48-year-old sat behind a glass enclosure as the hearing got underway.
Giving details of Modi’s attempt to interfere with witnesses, the prosecution made specific reference to one such witness, Ashish Lad, who Modi “threatened to kill in a phone call” and also offered him an incentive of Rs 2 million to provide a false statement. Four other witnesses were similarly targeted by Modi and mobile phones and a server holding “material critical to the fraud” were destroyed at his request, raising fears of further “destruction of evidence” if bail was granted, the court was told.
“Due to the nature of his business he has at his disposal diamonds, gold and pearls,” added the prosecutor. The court was also told about Modi’s attempt to attain citizenship in jurisdictions less likely to be willing to extradite him to India, including Vanuatu in the Pacific Ocean, on the basis of a USD 200,000 investment. However, the Vanuatu citizenship request was declined as a result of the ongoing Indian criminal investigation.
Modi’s defence team, led by barrister Clare Motgomery – who was also the barrister for Vijay Mallya – opposed the prosecutor’s claims of Modi being a flight risk and stressed that in fact Modi sees UK as a “haven where his case will be fairly considered.